Tiny tagged template string function for safe SQL. Supports SQlite3, PostgreSQL and others.
Last updated a year ago by moll .
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$ cnpm install sqlate 
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NPM version

Sqlate.js is a tiny tagged template string function library for JavaScript that permits you to write SQL in a template string and get a Sql instance out with parameter placeholders. You can then pass the SQL and parameters safely to Mapbox's SQLite3, Brian Carlson's PostgreSQL or other Node.js database libraries.


npm install sqlate

Sqlate.js follows semantic versioning, so feel free to depend on its major version with something like >= 1.0.0 < 2 (a.k.a ^1.0.0).


var Sql = require("sqlate").Sql
var sql = require("sqlate")

var ids = [1, 2, 3]
var age = 42
var query = sql`SELECT * FROM models WHERE id IN ${sql.in(ids)} AND age > ${age}`
query instanceof Sql // => true

The query variable will be set to an instance of Sql. This way you can differentiate safe SQL from plain strings.

When you stringify the above query via String(query), you'll get the SQL with values transformed to placeholders:

SELECT * FROM models WHERE id IN (?, ?, ?) AND age > ?

To get the values, get the parameters property from the query.

Values (incl. arrays) get interpolated as placeholders in the SQL itself. By default this is the SQLite variant's question mark (?). To select a placeholder appropriate for PostgreSQL, call Sql.prototype.toString with "$":

var name = "John"
var query = sql`SELECT * FROM models WHERE name = ${name}`
query.toString("$") // => SELECT * FROM models WHERE name = $1

As Sqlate.js explicitly supports Brian Carlson's PostgreSQL library, you can just pass your query to the Client.prototype.query function and it picks dollars for you automatically. See below for more details.


When you need arrays to be interpreted as tuples (for a compound comparison or an IN query) or as just comma separated values, you've got sql.tuple, sql.in and sql.csv to help you:

var nameAndAge = ["John", 42]
var query = sql`SELECT * FROM models WHERE (name, age) = ${sql.tuple(nameAndAge)}`

var ids = [1, 2, 3]
var query = sql`SELECT * FROM cars WHERE id IN ${sql.in(ids)}`

var tags = ["convertible", "v8"]
var query = sql`SELECT * FROM cars WHERE tags @> ARRAY[${sql.csv(tags)}]`

sql.tuple and sql.in differ in the way they handle empty arrays. The former gives you an empty tuple (()) for an empty array, which will cause a SQL syntax error in an IN query. That's where sql.in comes in handy — it returns (NULL) so an IN query fails to match. Note however that the way SQL's trinary logic works, a NOT IN query with a null value (id NOT IN (NULL) or even id NOT IN (1, NULL, 3)) will also never match, which isn't what you probably want. To ensure both empty arrays and nulls in a NOT IN clause work, use COALESCE:

var ids = []
var query = sql`
  SELECT * FROM cars
  WHERE COALESCE(id NOT IN ${sql.in(ids)}, true)

The above will create the following SQL, which should behave correctly in the face of NULLs:


Here's a table of what sql.tuple, sql.in and sql.csv generate:

Sqlate SQL
sql.tuple([]) ()
sql.tuple([1]) (1)
sql.tuple([1, 2, 3]) (1, 2, 3)
sql.in([]) (NULL)
sql.in([1]) (1)
sql.in([1, 2, 3]) (1, 2, 3)
sql.csv([]) Nothing
sql.csv([1]) 1
sql.csv([1, 2, 3]) 1, 2, 3

When you need to get nested tuples, like when creating an insert statement, use sql.tuple on each array element and sql.csv on the outer array. See below for an example.

Composing SQL

You can freely compose different pieces of SQL safely by passing one Sql instance to another:

var id = 42
var name = "John"
var idClause = sql`id = ${id}`
var nameClause = sql`name = ${name}`
var query = sql`SELECT * FROM models WHERE ${idClause} AND ${nameClause}`

This will generate the following query:

SELECT * FROM models WHERE id = ? AND name ?

Creating Insert Statements

Sqlate.js also has helpers to quote table and column names. These come in handy for insert statements:

var table = "models"
var columns = ["name", "age"]
var values = [["John", 42], ["Mike", 13]]

var query = sql`
  INSERT INTO ${sql.table(table)} ${sql.tuple(columns.map(sql.column))}
  VALUES ${sql.csv(values.map(sql.tuple))}

This will generate the following query:

INSERT INTO "models" ("name", "age") VALUES (?, ?), (?, ?)

The two helpers, sql.table and sql.column, have no differences other than their names. While it's safe to pass untrusted data as values, watch out for using untrusted data as table and column names. Sqlate.js quotes them as per the SQL 1999 standard (using two double-quotes "" for embedded quotes) if you use sql.column, but just to be safe, use a whitelist.

Using with Mapbox's SQLite3 Library

If you'd like to use Sqlate.js with Mapbox's SQLite3 library, here's an example of how you'd do so:

var Sqlite3 = require("sqlite3")
var db = new Sqlite3.Database(":memory:")

var ids = [1, 2, 3]
var age = 42
var query = sql`SELECT * FROM models WHERE id IN ${sql.tuple(ids)} AND age > ${age}`
db.all(String(query), query.parameters)

For a complete Table Data Gateway library for SQLite that works with Sqlate.js, see Heaven.js on SQLite.

Using with Brian Carlson's PostgreSQL Library

If you'd like to use Sqlate.js with Brian Carlson's PostgreSQL library, here's an example of how you'd do so:

var PgClient = require("pg")
var db = new PgClient({host: "localhost", database: "models"})

var ids = [1, 2, 3]
var age = 42
var query = sql`SELECT * FROM models WHERE id IN ${sql.tuple(ids)} AND age > ${age}`
db.query(query.toString("$"), query.parameters)

Because Sqlate.js's Sql object also has property aliases for the PostgreSQL's library's query config object, you can also pass the query directly:

var ids = [1, 2, 3]
var age = 42
db.query(sql`SELECT * FROM models WHERE id IN ${sql.tuple(ids)} AND age > ${age}`)

This chooses the "$" style of placeholders automatically.

Query Helpers

Rather than create a query and unpack it to SQL and parameters at call sites manually, I recommend you create a two helper functions — search and read — for accessing your database:

var Sql = require("sqlate").Sql
var db = connect() // Using your favorite database library here.

// Returns an promise of an array of rows.
function search(query) {
  if (!(query instanceof Sql)) throw new TypeError("Invalid Query: " + query)
  return db.query(String(query), query.parameters)

// Returns a promise of a single row.
function read(query) {
  return search(query).then(function(rows) { return rows[0] })

This way you have a CRUD interface that you can safely pass SQL to without worrying you'll accidentally cause an SQL injection:

var sql = require("sqlate")
var id = 42
read(sql`SELECT * FROM models WHERE id = ${id} LIMIT 1`)


Sqlate.js is released under a Lesser GNU Affero General Public License, which in summary means:

  • You can use this program for no cost.
  • You can use this program for both personal and commercial reasons.
  • You do not have to share your own program's code which uses this program.
  • You have to share modifications (e.g. bug-fixes) you've made to this program.

For more convoluted language, see the LICENSE file.


Andri Möll typed this and the code.
Monday Calendar supported the engineering work.

If you find Sqlate.js needs improving, please don't hesitate to type to me now at andri@dot.ee or create an issue online.

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